Media Monitor: Go brave, Guardian Media; just keep right on maccoing Michelle-Lee

As a once respected media house, the Guardian may well believe maccoing to be its thing. But as a former journalism lecturer, I am very sure it isn’t mine.

I am not, therefore, in the least interested in knowing who Michelle-Lee Ahye’s partner is. Or his or her sex. Or his or her gender.

Photo: Commonwealth Games 100m gold medallist Michelle-Lee Ahye (right) is the target of world attention after snatching the title on the Carrara Stadium track on 9 April, 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

I think it is a safe bet that the Guardian principals were very proud of themselves for having “exposed” the 26-year-old Commonwealth Games 100m gold medal winner’s sexual preferences on yesterday’s front page. They must have thought they were awfully clever. I imagine them congratulating themselves on their big scoop, patting one another on the back, pleased as Punch.

Not too easily distinguishable, I have to add, from the Punch.

It reminds one of Newsday’s “Dick is in” headline in the run-up to the Rio Olympics. Only I have never heard Newsday boast about being a “family newspaper,” neither before nor after it carried a picture of Thackoor Boodram’s severed head on its front page one New Year’s Day. The 100-plus-year-old Old Lady of St Vincent Street has, however, made the phrase a recurrent theme in its advertising.

In fact, in the early 1990’s, I had the misfortune to sit in on a meeting at which a high-placed company representative (HCR) spent an awful lot of time tearing into the then Features Editor. She had been responsible for putting on the front page of the Carnival Magazine an authentic, unphoto-shopped photograph of a masquerader walking down Frederick Street with an over-sized phallus hanging from his waist.

His message delivered, Mr HCR then left, having announced that he was not taking any questions!

What was wrong with that? How could the Features Editor and the Editorial Committee not know that the Guardian was a family newspaper?

Photo: The logo of the 100-plus-year-old Trinidad Guardian.

Well, times have changed. So I suspect that the Editorial Committee got no visit from any high-placed company representative yesterday or this morning. In fact, if we were not dealing with a paper that, in the mid-90’s, split the TT$500 prize for Employee of the Year between the two people whom they couldn’t separate, I would have said that the Editor probably received a bonus cheque in the course of the day yesterday for having boosted sales so healthily with his choice of lead.

That was before the s**t hit the fan, And the sporting fans began to hit back at the Guardian for its s**t..

You see, I don’t think the Guardian principals quite realise just how much times have changed. Maybe they missed it but just last week the local courts made a landmark judgement which should have clued them in to the ways of today’s world. Maybe they have been asleep on the job for so long that they no longer even bother to wake up and smell the coffee—or read the morning paper.

So I think, I hope that, in seeking to “expose” Ahye, they have merely exposed themselves to the contempt of right-thinking people.

Just over two weeks ago, Ahye was involved in a very public exchange with four-time Olympic medallist Ato Boldon prior to the departure of the national contingent for the Gold Coast. The spat which, I am reliably informed, was continuing unabated on Facebook as late as yesterday might well have led to Ahye’s decision not to participate in the 4x100m relay in Gold Coast.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards (centre), England’s Zharnel Hughes (left) and Canada’s Aaron Brown cross the line in the 200m final at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on 12 April, 2018.
(Copyright Saeed Khan/AFP 2018/Wired868)

Did the Guardian think to interview Ahye or Boldon about their ongoing feud? Of course not! Or to put a few pointed questions to TTOC’s Brian Lewis about what his organisation proposes to do about it? Of course not! Well, since I never looked beyond the front page of yesterday’s paper, I should say simply that I doubt it.

After all, there was low-hanging, eye-catching, potentially sales-boosting fruit on Facebook.

Raffique Shah reveals in today’s Express that the Carifta and Commonwealth Games squads were top-heavy with officials. There were 23 officials to service the 51-member contingent in Gold Coast and 18 to minister to the needs of the 42 athletes who went to the Bahamas.

For the ten-day stay in Australia, Shah estimates, taxpayers would have had to cough up the princely sum of some US$225,000. Seems to me that, in this guava season, a good reporter might have made a pretty compelling story out of that.

But who needs research and hard wuk when there is low-hanging, eye-catching, potentially sales-boosting fruit on Facebook?

Sort of like shooting lurid questions at the soon-to-be resident of President’s House.

Truth be told, I have no idea what T&T as a whole is thinking about the Guardian today. But if the reaction of one Twitter user is any indication, I am not alone in my resolve to have nothing to do with the Guardian after yesterday.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye (right) crosses the finish line ahead of Jamaican sprinter Cristiana Williams to take the 100m Commonwealth Games title at the Gold Coast on 9 April, 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

“I wouldn’t even put my zaboca to ripe in d Guardian newspaper,” she wrote. “The T&T Guardian is CANCELLED.”

So maybe I was wrong. Maybe the Editorial Committee will get a visit from a Board representative today.

“You can damage my reputation as a family newspaper,” the Guardian’s principals might well hear, “but don’t you mess with my bottom line!”

I’m finished with the Guardian but I don’t want to end with the Guardian. I want to end by relaying a message to the entire media from the 26-year-old Ms Ahye.

“I am old enough to make my own choices,” I say on her behalf, “whether it be whom to run after or whom to run with. And no slew of sordid, sensation-seeking front pages will change the image that will abide with sports fans.

“That image is the picture of one Michelle-Lee Ahye, me, crossing the finish line at the Commonwealth Games, first a little fist pump of triumph, and then, pumped, making an adrenaline-driven high-speed ‘lap’ of honour which only ended when realisation finally sank in and I collapsed in a relieved, exultant, grateful heap on the Carrara Stadium track.”

Yeah, Ato, talk nah!

Photo: Four-time Olympic medallist, track coach and NBC analyst Ato Boldon.
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About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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  1. Warning: Undefined variable $userid in /www/wired868_759/public/wp-content/plugins/user-photo/user-photo.php on line 114

    what does someone’s sexual preference have to do with running a race?

  2. That’s not right for what she did for her Country, to be treated that way, at least be happy for her by winning Gold for t&t and show some kind of respect too. This World don’t discriminate against people how ever they choose to live their lives, let it be the last thing to think about.

  3. and even before that, don’t forget the attacks directed at the CJ with a faceless photo.

  4. The Guardian has apologized today.

  5. It opens on the laptop and desktop but no phone

  6. Does a public figure have a Private life?

    • Earl Best

      You might want to direct that question to the CJ or alternatively, wait for the outcome of the case involving him and the Law Association, in which he argues that he does. I feel certain that he will give you an answer so comprehensive that it leaves no gaps still to be filled.

      All I can tell you in response is yes, I think so.

  7. What’s the big issue about her leave her alone

  8. Some one has a malicious and vindictive axe to grind with Michelle. The truth will eventually come out. They took what should br extended golden high for her and has attempted to tarnish her time to shine. She WILL rise. The Guardian is doomed, a relic of a colonial past. They have dug their own grave.

  9. They decided to declare themselves as “without sin” and cast boulders to the wind, however they seem to throw these rocks straight up in the air. Is it possible that no gay person is, or has ever been, employed at the guardian?

  10. When you’re in the public space, expect both praise and ridicule, it’s just part of the program.

  11. Guardian claims the “compromising photo” was taken from the private account of someone they mention by name – a private citizen as far as I know. So what do they do? They publish a photo of Lee Ahye and said person. To what end? To start a sensible discussion about homophobia? Come on Lasana… even you don’t believe that.
    Ever since the Guardian published that article last year about Devon Matthews and diet pills, they lost all integrity as far as I’m concerned. I quite agree with Earl Best and everything he says in this article. Guardian deals in bacchanal and comess, not news.

  12. She is a lone wolf and not a team player

  13. While their intent is not entirely clear, they really made a lustful clutch at the lowest-hanging fruit and ran with it as ‘news’. Little or no journalistic effort expended in trotting that out as a page 3 lead too!

    It makes me wonder what image we portray to other athletes who might be eligible to represent T&T. What’s the message? If you’re “different”, you won’t be welcome despite winning gold?

    The Old Lady has once again become The Jamette of St Vincent Street!

  14. So what the hell if the Guardian or even wired868 exposed her sexual preference.Who cares except God. Who is she that is so “precious” and must not be a subject for news? We criticize politicians whether it’s their public or private lives because they are in the spotlight. Michelle is a sporting figure in the spotlight and should not be touched? Gimme a break that what she did was for country, foolishness! What she did was for self but because she lives here we are mentioned. We are a bunch of hypocrites if some government official, the CJ for example that was featured…no big ting but because its a sportswoman every one annoyed? Eat your hearts out, Guardian owes no one no damn apology who annoyed, stop purchasing the tabloid. STRAIGHT TALK…BAD MANNERS!

    • Well that’s one way to look at it… ??

    • I think the CJ comparison isn’t a strong one because those were snaps allegedly taken on State time with someone he was supposedly trying to get business for from the State.
      Michelle-Lee was on her personal time and deserves some privacy.
      Still I can’t help but admire your forthrightness! ??

    • Earl Best

      The issue, I’m afraid, Mike, has nothing at all to do with her winning or not winning a medal. This would be wrong if she won six medals or if she finished dead last in all of her races. Public personalities have private lives too and we have to respect their right to have private lives.
      If Michelle-Lee had taken her partner to Australia and the Guardian had got an exclusive photograph of the pair together at the Carrara Stadium, that would have been a Guardian scoop. To go take a photo like this off Instagram and parade it on your front page is Guardian sewerage.

    • I think people care because ultimately, it wasn’t GML’s story to tell.

      It was Michelle’s, and only if she saw fit to do so.

  15. To be fair to the Trinidad Guardian, I don’t think they were trying to “expose” Michelle-Lee Ahye at all. I think it was a really clumsy attempt to tackle homophobia in general.
    So I disagree with Earl on that score.

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